by Stephanie Berenbaum – February 2, 2011
A Cheat Sheet on a Region in Turmoil
With all the tumult in the Middle East in the past few weeks, you may find yourself hearing about countries and leaders you know very little – or nothing – about. With one revolution after another, there is plenty to educate ourselves about. Aside from the serious social issues at stake, these international events affect our money- everything from oil prices, to where tourism dollars are spent, to the ups and down of financial markets worldwide. Simply put- turning a blind eye is not an option…
So – in order to more easily understand the growing unrest in Egypt and other neighboring countries, here is a brief Fab & Fru breakdown of Middle East leaders and the countries that have made the news over the past few weeks. As revolts continue to occur in the region, this thumbnail sketch of the relevant players should at least help you to familiarize yourself with the basics so you can better navigate your way through the alarming headlines.
Current president (as of this writing) is Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is described as a Semi-Presidential Republic, but it has been under the rule of Emergency Law since 1967 (with a brief hiatus in 1980). Mubarak is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and is currently serving his 5th term in office. He took over as President after the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981.
The current protests in Egypt are calling for his resignation. And although he has said he will not stand for re-election in September, the protesters are calling for his immediate exit.
King Abdullah II. Jordan’s government is a constitutional monarchy. Jordan has made headlines in the news, because as of a couple days ago, King Abdullah fired his entire cabinet. This was seen as a pre-emptive reaction to events taking place in Egypt and Tunisia.
With a reputation as a modern, Western educated leader, his actions have been interpreted as a preemptive move to avoid a potential revolt by the people against the ruling government. He has asked former Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to form a new, more democratic government.
King Abdullah is the Saudi ruler. The government is an Islamic Absolute Monarchy – meaning the King must be guided by the principles of Sharia (Islamic Law) and The Qur’an. The King is chosen from sons and grandsons of the first King- Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen has a Presidential Democracy. President Saleh announced today that he will not finish out his term (which is up in 2013), and that he will not pass power down to his son, as many were fearing. This announcement comes a day before planned protests in the capital city of Sana’a. In the past, Saleh has said he would step down, but he has gone back on his word. Therefore, there is some skepticism about his declaration.
Yemen is the poorest Arab country, and seen as fertile ground for Al-Queda and other terrorist organizations.| Print
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